How Social Media “Cuts” Like A Knife…Good and Bad…

Did you ever wonder how athletes of the past would have survived in this all-access er. Take Lou Gehrig for example. As.The Iron Hors. hid his ever worsening condition prior to retirement, would Ty Cobb or Frankie Frisch have jumped on twitter and questioned his heart and stamina, as happened with Jay Cutler and other athletes over the weeken. Criticism which went viral and caused a huge mainstream media stir without knowing all the facts of a medical conditio. It would have made for an interesting debate.

The criticism of Cutler by players like Maurice Jones-Drew, and others highlights both the good and the bad of what social media can do today. It provides fans and media with an immediate, real time insiders feel as to what those in the game are thinking and doing. It creates buzz and stretches stories way beyond what was once known as mainstream media coverage. It gives those who had no voice a voice and an opinion to share. Tha.s the good side.

On the other side, it creates controversy where there was.t much, raises unnecessary distractions from the real news of the day, it can distort what the facts are, and in cases where athletes or celebrities do.t actually.contro. their own twitter and social media feeds may lead to embarrassment. Also because of the immediacy and emotionality of what can be said, often times things are posted, emailed, tweeted in a vacuum, spur of the moment, withou. fact checking, and once out there the damage control can be much more time consuming than the 30 seconds it takes to post something..The tweets and posts, as one reads back, were certainly opinion and most were not overly damaging, they simply raised questions. Also many times we can be led to posting in an emotion filled times by others who are looking for that person, that celebrity, just to make some noise and speak for the sake of speaking, not worrying about the consequences. That too is a dangerous thing.

Now this is not to say that those athletes who jumped on Cutler were not speaking from the heart, and that their posts were not a true expression of how they felt. What they were however, were uninformed in a big picture sense, emotional responses in a world where the extent of injury and what can be said publicly is very, very controlled. The facts revealed Monday by the Bears speak for themselves. Cutler had a legitimate injury which forced him out of a game. The extent of that injury or his desire to continue to play with that injury is known by him and the inner circle of the Bears alone. The damage control, and the reputation repair that Cutler and the Bears went through Monday, a day after they finished a run to the NFC Championship Game that few would have predicted, was a distraction but was handled very wel.with the facts.

Will there be more backlash to those who posted comments, and will the NFL look to crack down more on athletes in the social media space as part of the new CB. Maybe, but it is hard to control anyon.s opinion, nor should any organization really be that involved with what its public figures say when technically away from the workplace. Maybe this is a case that will be settled on the field or in the lockerrooms down the line, and maybe those who did the blind criticizing will serve as an example to others in the future who speak before knowing the facts. Then again there are probably many who cheered the comments and the buzz they created for athletes, all of whom were done with their season and away from the game. Those athletes and their followers created a voice in a quiet time, and that voice may help them advance their off-field endeavors, especially in their markets, when they otherwise would not have been heard from. All is open for debate.

There is no doubt that we live in a different world today, and that those who have a voice now deserve to be heard. Whether people are always listening is another matter, and how loud that voice speaks and what the consequences are is also up for debate. One thing is for sure though, the amount of what is off limits is becoming less and less with increased access, and the long term repercussions will be interesting to follow..As for the comments themselves, often times i.s a case of how you say something, not what say. Timing is everything, and no one should know that better than athletes.

And we move o.

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